Monday, November 7, 2011

Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking by Philippe Coudray

The latest entry to the ever expanding and impressive Toon-Books collection is Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking from author Philip Coudray. While the format is slightly different - a series of one page comics rather than the longer stories that make graphic novels - some things remain the same. Just like his predecessors Little Mouse, Benny & Penny, Silly Lilly, Mo & Jo, and others, Benjamin Bear is engaging, age appropriate in reading level and interest, and flat-out funny.

As the title indicates, some folks might describe Benjamin Bear’s thinking as fuzzy. Others might see it as outside the box. Kids won’t care. They’ll be too busy laughing. When Benjamin Bear doesn’t have enough courage to hang glide off a cliff, rather than find a way to build up the needed bravery, he instead gets an angry dog to chase him … right off the cliff. In another scene he gets lost in a giant maze carrying nothing but an apple. Rather than eat the apple to get energy to find a way out, he just sets the apple down and waits. When the ants come for his apple, he follows the ants out of the maze.

Traditional graphic novels and comic books tell stories - longer narratives sometimes broken between issues or separated into episodes in one book. Benjamin Bear is a series of unrelated one-pagers. Think Sunday comics. More than the three-panel weekday comics, but much less than a full graphic novel.

On each page Benjamin Bear faces a problem or challenge. Apple too high in the tree? Pets want to visit the ocean floor? But in a matter of moments, a period of panels, by the end of the page, Benjamin Bear creatively figures out a solution.

All thanks to his fuzzy thinking.

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